People said I was crazy to go to Africa with nothing but shoes for orphans, but I don’t care.
People said I was crazy to go to Peru 3 times, but I don’t care.
People said I was crazy to join the Navy, but I don’t care.
People said I was crazy to go to New Orleans alone, but I don’t care.
People said I was crazy to go to Mardi Gras (on top of the fact I was going to New Orleans for the second time) alone, but I don’t care.
People said I was crazy to go backpacking in Central America for 18 days alone, but I don’t care.
That’s just it, I do not care. Did you hear that? I DO NOT CARE. I am willing, confident, female, solo, and ABLE, and I DO NOT CARE. Are there risks? Yes. Could bad things happen? Yes. Am I naive? Maybe. Am I too trusting? Maybe I am, but guess what, I DO NOT CARE. I could read this blog in a couple years, a couple months, maybe even a couple days from now, and realize that I am absolutely insane, but the thing about that is, you live and you learn. I could take all the advice from everyone in the world and do the best that I could to stay safe, but I would end up locking myself in a padded room. There is danger everywhere. There is danger in my daily, 30 minute commute to work, there is danger every time I go to the beach, there is danger even every time I go to church, but I take those risks, so why not take them somewhere else too? People live in all parts of the world. People live in New Orleans where everyone told me was so dangerous, there is danger where I went in Mozambique even though I was with an entire team of people, there was danger in Lima, Peru walking to the grocery store whether I was with 1 person or 15 people, there is danger waiting every time I step out of my front door. Are you going to hide from it, or are you willing to go and live out your everyday life?
When I joined the Navy I heard close to nothing but discouraging remarks of my inability to do something like that, or the poor conditions of being in the military as a female, but you know what? All that did was make me want to do it more. For every single person that said you’re too girly for the military, you’re too weak for the military, or you’re too ANYTHING to join the Navy I said I would prove you wrong. Every time someone told me I couldn’t, I tried that much harder. I remember my third night of bootcamp, crying in my rack thinking, “Jessica, why didn’t you just go to a university like your friends? Why do you always have to take the hard road? You have to go home, this is insane.” Then, it hit me. I knew I had to pull it together and prove to everyone I knew that they were wrong. I didn’t care how hard, or how painful it would be, I had to do it. And you know what? I did it, and I did it well. Now, I’ve been in the Navy longer than four years, and every year, on that anniversary, all I think about is how proud I am that I did it, and I didn’t listen to all the discouragement. If I can’t do anything else in my life, I did that, and that’s more than so many other people can say that they have done.
Going to London, Switzerland, Africa, Peru, and Australia I was on teams of people, so I did have that going for me, but for the majority of those trips I didn’t know my teammates until I got there, so as far as I am concerned it’s basically the same as checking into a hostel. Going as an 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16 year old that is pretty brave, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes thinking back on my experiences I can’t believe the things I did at such a young age, but I did them. Then, at the ripe age of 17, two weeks after graduating from highschool I went to boot camp for the U.S. Navy! I know that it sounds like I am bragging, but my intention is not to brag, but to show you that if i can do it anyone can do it.
You need to look into yourself and decide if you are going to let what people say hold you back, or if you are going shake it off and do what you need to do! My upcoming trip to Central America is a big one, and I would be lying if I said there weren’t certain things I was nervous about, but I know I can adapt and overcome, and I know this will be a life changing trip for me. I know that I was becoming stagnant in where I am, and that it is important to myself that I do this! I can, and I will!
It pains me to see people incapable of doing the things that they want. I never in my life want to say, “I didn’t do it because I didn’t have anyone to go with me.” and that is why I started to fall in love with solo travel. When I see people who have life situations that make it so much harder for them to travel than me I feel so bad, but also so much more motivated to do it while I can. Sometimes I am irresponsible, I know that, I KNOW THAT, but I also know that if I were to become incapable of doing these things I will totally regret not just doing it when it was just kind of irresponsible. So, here I go, off to my longest, most adventurous solo trip, to Central America, wide eyed to the world in front of me, maybe naive, probably irresponsible, probably crazy, but it’s so worth it.